5 Ways to Warm Up at Your Local Gym
You get to the gym, bust out the weights, and crack on with your lifting regime. Three sets in and a pain shoots up your side, and so your workout ends prematurely. What happened?
You forgot the warm up.
Warm ups and cool downs were at one point looked down upon in the fitness community.
The current school of thought now leans the other way – exercising without a warm up is dangerous and can lead to injuries. Considering it only takes a few minutes, bypassing the warm up is foolish and may lead to injury.
Why Warm Up?
A warm up is an exercise and/or stretch aimed at providing a gentle preparation for the body by causing a gradual increase in the heart rate and circulation; this is turn will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles, allowing them to relax.
Stretches prepare the muscles for physical activities and, in conjunction with the increased blood flow, prepares the muscles for physical activity.
A warm up can also be a productive exercise. Anytime Fitness Glasgow Gym, recommends exercise as it “helps to increase the brain’s production of endorphins, a hormone that makes us feel better physically and emotionally outlook.”
Fitness enthusiasts often gave them a hard time for being “a waste of exercising time”, but this is rarely the case. A well-executed workout will both warm up the muscles and provide quantifiable input towards increasing fitness. So what are the best exercises to use for warm-ups?
Static and Dynamic Stretching
The terms “static” and “dynamic” refer to the movement of the body during the stretch. Static stretches involve holding a pose, similar to yoga or Pilates, that stretches specific portions of the body. They allow the body to get used to the maximum and minimum limits of muscle movement ranges.
A classic static stretch is the hamstring stretch, where a person sits on the floor and stretches one leg out straight, with the foot of the opposite leg placed against the inner thigh. The person then leans forward, keeping the back straight. A stretch will be felt along the stretched leg.
“Dynamic” stretches utilise momentum from the form in an effort to move the targeted muscle groups into an extending range of motion, reaching the same limits as that of static stretches. Where static stretches test the limits of the range, dynamic stretches test the range itself. Generic examples are circle motions. These can be done with the head, shoulders, knees (and toes), and many other areas of the body. They focus on rotating a joint to warm the ligaments and also to stretch any related tendons.
The quintessential warm up from all the way back when your P.E teacher would make you all do a lap around the pitch “to get the blood pumping”. In a gym environment, 10 minutes on the treadmill will get the heart rate up and is a good general cardiovascular activity.
Although it varies slightly from person to person, studies show that in general, 10 minutes of running will burn 100 calories. To put that in perspective, for every energy deficit (burning more calories than you take it) of 3500 calories, a person will lose one pound of fat. That means that assuming every other calorie activity – eating and exercise – is balanced, over the course of a month your 10-minute warm up will lose you one pound.
Another great example of a cardiovascular activity with a secondary bonus, rowing is a fantastic warm up exercise. The rowing machine in the gym allows for different levels of resistance, making it suitable for fitness fanatics of all levels. Rowing is an excellent compound exercise, involving muscle groups in the legs, core, arms, shoulder, and back.
The Mysterious Medicine Ball
You will have seen a medicine ball around the gym; it’s the piece of equipment that looks like it has rolled out of the Victorian era straight into your local 24-hour gym. They have, in fact, been around since at least 1876, when the term was used by Robert Jenkins Roberts, Jr. (what a name), but have likely been around for longer. There’s a reason they still exist today: they’re great for exercise. Look at possible medicine ball warm up routines to find one that works for you.
The Curious Foam Roller
On to the last warm up routine on the list, and the second that involves an item of equipment. Foam rollers are those things that look like padded tubes – or rolled up yoga mats – with ridges on them. They are used in conjunction with dynamic exercises to loosen muscles. They can also be used for recovery and tension release by targeting specific knots within muscle groups. This is all achieved by the ridged surface in combination with movement.
Foam roller routines vary depending on what you want to target, but there are a plethora of workouts available online to fit any need.